Fire service urges caution over electrical fires at Christmas

Shay Bottomley

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is urging residents to reduce the risk of an electrical fire in their home in the lead-up to Christmas.

Vigilance while shopping online is one of the key messages being promoted by the fire service ahead of the festive season.

Research by the charity Electrical Safety First found almost two-thirds of those who bought fake electrical products purchased them online including devices such as phones and tablets.

Furthermore, 29 per cent of those who bought counterfeit products bought them on an online marketplace

These sites often trade electrical goods with faulty parts, posing a severe risk of electric shock or fire.

More than half of all accidental domestic fires in England had an ‘electrical origin’ in 2018/19, the latest year for which figures are available.

Of the 14,186 accidental electrical fires in homes across England, more than a quarter were as a result of faulty appliances and leads.

Furthermore, 15.2 per cent of electrical fires were due to a faulty fuel supply, while more than 6,500 (46.5 per cent) were as a result of misuse.

Mark Jones, watch-based station manager, said: “In 2018/19, electrical fires made up over 50 per cent of accidental dwelling fires in England, so we want to raise awareness of the fire risks caused by counterfeit products, as well as provide some general advice to residents to help them to prevent electrical fires from breaking out.

“While many items advertised online may appear sophisticated on the outside, they could lack essential safety components inside, making them dangerous and at risk of causing a fire or explosion.

“There are some simple measures that residents can take to reduce the risk of electrical fires.

“This includes shopping cautiously and from retailers you trust as well as not overloading sockets and unplugging them when they are no longer being used.”

Residents are encouraged to purchase from trusted retailers or manufacturers, and to keep an eye out for the United Kingdom Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark which states the product meets UK safety regulations.

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